Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/422/4935
Department for work and pensions:
Striking for jobs, services and rights
PCS MEMBERS at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) have voted to take industrial action as part of their jobs, services and rights campaign. The PCS executive committee for the DWP has voted for discontinuous action, starting with two days of strike action on 26 and 27 January and an overtime ban.
John McInally, DWP Group Asst secretary and national executive committee (personal capacity)
The DWP's modernisation (ie cuts) programme has seen 15,000 jobs go in the last year, resulting in operational and service delivery problems which have impacted on staff and public alike. But along with staff cuts, management are also conducting an assault on terms and conditions.
The picture in the DWP is one of understaffing, backlogs, increasing workloads and stress, failing IT equipment and communications, contact and call centre failure, reversion to clerical work and so on. The error rate has risen considerably and assaults on staff are up 62% in one year. Some claims are taking up to 12 weeks to be resolved.
PCS are demanding that the government and management halt this programme and work with the union to provide adequate staffing levels, based on what the service needs, with no compulsory redundancies.
We want to defend and improve the service to the public. This is not just a question of jobs. This programme is cutting public services and if it continues there will be less and less access to services.
The DWP workers have recently been involved in an 18-month long struggle over a pay and appraisal system, which was resolved in favour of the union. This vote shows a confidence in the left leadership of the PCS and a determination to protect jobs and services.
The union is also working with service user groups like unemployed workers' centres.
As well as showing support to workers on the picket lines, to help put pressure on the government, if people have had any bad experiences with pensions, benefits or the Child Support Agency, they should contact their local MP.
In The Socialist 12 January 2006: